Litter laws

Littering, illegal dumping, and driving with an unsecured vehicle load is punishable under Washington state law. Fines range from $50 to $5,000. Many cities and counties have local ordinances that are stricter than the state law.

Litter fines

Littering is punishable by fines ranging from $50 to $5,000 in Washington. The largest fines are for “lit debris” — primarily cigarettes — and items that can cause accidents. Failing to secure a load and injuring another person can result in a gross misdemeanor, including a fine and up to a year in jail.

The law (RCW 70A.200.060) sets minimum fines for littering and illegal dumping.The Washington State Patrol, local police departments, sheriff's offices, and health departments enforce litter laws. Many cities and counties have local ordinances that are stricter than the state law.

Contact your local police department, sheriff’s office, city, or county clerk for information on local litter enforcement and to find out what laws apply in your area.

Secure your load

Washington law (RCW 46.61.655) requires motorists to cover and secure their loads to prevent cargo from breaking free.

Items falling out of trucks and off of cars cause serious accidents every year in Washington. Because of this danger, Washington law requires people to secure their cargo with tarps, netting, or other tie-down materials.

How to secure a load

  1. Place lighter items below heavier items to keep them in place. Securely fasten the heavy items directly to your vehicle.
  2. Tie down items using rope, netting, straps, or chains. Securely fasten large items directly to your vehicle.
  3. Add extra protection by covering the entire load with a tarp or netting. Make sure that all covering is securely tied down.
  4. Don’t overload vehicles or trailers.
  5. Double-check to be sure the load is secure.
  6. Speed, weight, and gravity are not load-securing devices. Ropes, straps, and netting are load securing devices.

Secure your load tip sheets